Atlanto Axial Instability

Atlanto Axial instability is caused by an increased flexibility in the muscles and ligaments between the first and second vertebrae in the neck. This can lead to these ligaments and muscles becoming loose and the joint becomes unstable. In some cases bones in the neck can also be underdeveloped and can be the cause of instability. Participants in the special Olympic games undergo screening as part of a medical assessment due to an increased risk of injury if there is a predisposing issue with the atlanto axial joint. Screening is carried out by an x ray of the neck and spinal region. It is currently recommended by the Medical Guidelines for children and adolescents with Down syndrome that signs and symptoms of instability should be addressed immediately by a medical professional these include:

    • Abnormal head posture
    • Restricted neck movement
    • A stiff neck that is not getting any better
    • Neck pain and pain behind the ear
    • Altered gait/ unstable on their feet
    • Deteriorating manipulative skills
    • Deterioration in bladder or bowel control